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Pentagon Releases New Rules for Treatment of Detainees

06 September 2006

Humane treatment of detainees remains standard operating procedure

Washington – The Defense Department released new guidelines for the treatment and interrogation of detainees in the War on Terror September 6 that require, at a minimum, that all detainees in the custody of the Defense Department be treated in a manner consistent with the requirements of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions that prohibits cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.

The department also issued a new Army Field Manual 2-22.3 that eliminates certain interrogation practices and also emphasizes humane treatment for all detainees, including unlawful combatants, under all circumstances. The manual applies to all members of the armed forces.

In addition to the Geneva Conventions protections, the new policy requires detainees to receive adequate food, water, shelter, clothing and medical treatment, and to be permitted the free exercise of religion, consistent with the requirements of detention.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs Cully Stimson said the new policies are a result of lessons learned during the global War on Terror. The directives, he said, incorporate 95 percent of the recommendations from more than 12 investigations conducted by the Defense Department over the last two years regarding detainee treatment.

"The revisions ... took time," Stimson said at a September 6 Pentagon briefing. "It took time because it was important to get it right, and we did get it right."

The Defense Department says that humane treatment always has been and remains the standard for detainee treatment. However, the new manual – that along with the directives outlines the legal framework for interrogating detainees – contains simple, straight-forward language that easily can be used by those in the field. It includes illustrative examples of the correct application of interrogation techniques and prohibited practices that would constitute banned torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The new manual also clarifies the roles of military police, military intelligence, contract interrogators and interpreters, as well as the rules governing access to detainees by non-Defense Department organizations. It emphasizes the responsibility of all members of the U.S. armed services to report both observed and suspected detainee abuse, and explains how to report abuse. The manual also emphasizes the roles and responsibilities of commanders at all levels of the U.S. military.

The previous manual addressing intelligence-gathering was published in 1992 and only focused on interrogations, but the new manual provides explicit, practical guidance to all those gathering human intelligence in the field.

For additional information, see Detainee Issues.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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